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Natalie helps make a difference with Operation Smile
Natalie helps make a difference with Operation Smile

Friday, March 2nd, 2012 (Nassau, Bahamas) - Natalie Hernandez is a truly extraordinary young woman. In February 2012, Natalie visited Phnom Pehn, Cambodia as a volunteer student educator for Operation Smile, an international medical charity that has provided more than 2 million patient evaluations and over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities around the world.

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Beware the Tsunami of Non-communicable Chronic Diseases
Beware the Tsunami of Non-communicable Chronic Diseases

Bahamians are watching a tsunami of chronic non-communicable diseases sweep through its population as coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disease has become the number one cause of death in Bahamians. And unless people decide to act and change their way...

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2010/2011 Budget Debate Contribution - Health Minister Dr. Hubert 	Minnis
2010/2011 Budget Debate Contribution - Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis

I rise on behalf of the Ministry of Health to make my contribution to this 2010/2011 budget presentation and thank the great constituency of Killarney for the opportunity to present this, my third health budget to this honorable chamber.
I wish to congratulate the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham, for his courage in presenting a Budget that is reflective of the realities of the national economic situation and that refused to defer difficult decisions for future generation of leaders.

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Assault Victim Recalls Violent Incident
Assault Victim Recalls Violent Incident

Jerome Smith was walking home from a gas station four years ago when a man bashed his head in with a rock, leaving the then 20-year-old clinging to life. It was a day Smith recalls vividly. He said he and a female relative were walking home when a man started shouting jeers at her.go," he said.

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Boy who survived Libyan air crash 'stable'
Boy who survived Libyan air crash 'stable'

A Dutch boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash at Tripoli airport in Libya that killed 103 people is said to be in a stable condition after surgery.

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Bald, beautiful surviving

No one ever thinks they will develop cancer. Cassandra Lewis-Moore was one of those people. The 34-year-old thought there was a possibility she would get diabetes as it'runs'in her family, but she never thought cancer would happen to her. But during the eighth month of pregnancy with her first child in October 2010, she felt a huge lump in one of her breasts. She knew something was wrong. She sought medical attention.

"It was very large, and it shouldn't have been there,"recalled Lewis-Moore."I'd never felt anything like that before. It didn't hurt, but it was very hard and very big. But because the breasts were so large you couldn't see it."

Because she was pregnant, her doctor ordered an ultrasound of the breast and concluded it was breast milk that would go away once she started breastfeeding. Lewis-Moore, a newlywed and her husband, Kevin welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Andreus, who they call"KJ"into the family. In the months after her son's birth, she noticed her breast size decreasing, but the lump getting bigger and protruding through the skin and not disappearing like the doctor had told her it would. It had started to hurt. It was a pain she chalked up to tenderness from breastfeeding. That was until the day she was playing with a then crawling"KJ"and like all babies do, he kneed her in the breast. The pain was excruciating. She remembers actually pushing her baby away from her so suddenly that she scared him. She thought about what the doctors had told her, and massaged her breast and put hot towels on it to help dissolve the milk. But it was the day that she took a"me day"in January 2011, and headed to the spa for a massage. As the therapist worked on her back, she said it was so painful she could not complete the therapy. That pain sent her back to her doctor.

Her doctor requested a mammogram. The result showed hardened milk. Her doctor requested a lumpectomy to remove the hardened mass, which was done in March 2011. The mass was tested and the result returned as Stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer cells were actually inside the hardened breast milk.


Lewis-Moore was scared--not because it had taken so long to determine she had breast cancer--she was mad because she wondered what would happen to her family after she'd waited so long to get married and have a child, and then to be diagnosed with cancer while still a newlywed and a new mother.

"In my 20s, it was all about education and my career--so in my 30s, it was about getting married. And I'm the only girl and the last child in my family, so it was a big thing[for me to get married and have a child], and to be told this[that I had cancer]. I thought, what was going to happen to my family?"

Lewis-Moore began her battle with the deadly cancer cells. She celebrated her baby's first birthday one week before she began chemotherapy treatment. And she did her best to keep her energy up over the months of treatment for her child, who was too young to understand that his mom was sick.

"He just knows one day mommy had hair that he used to pull,"says Lewis-Moore who boldly sports a bald head no hair caps for her."The tough part was when we were playing one day and I had already started chemo, and he pulled on my hair, and a whole clump came out in his hand and fell on his face. He just dropped it and ran. He was scared. But other than that, mommy is still mommy. Sometimes, she can still play; sometimes, she can't because she's very tired."

She's finished with chemo, but will have to take additional treatment because she was diagnosed as HER2-positive. This is a diagnosis for people who have a protein called human epidermal growth factor that promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positivebreast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. They're also less responsive to hormone treatment. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective.

"I'm going to have to do additional treatments, but they're not as severe as the chemo, and they want me to do radiation, and we're still setting that up."

The road to survivor isn't quite finished yet, but Lewis-Moore begs to differ. "I had a lump--the cancer was there, and they took the lump out, and the cancer hadn't spread."

Even though chemo was a downside, Lewis-Moore has come out on the other side with a friend--a 31-year-old who had to have an immediate double mastectomy because her cancer was spreading like wildfire.

"Chemo was rough; I will not lie,"she says."It is not rough for everyone, but for those who have the illnesses after the chemo, make sure you have a strong support system at home and at work."


She is now on a slow road to bringing sexy back. She's walking at least 20 minutes a day as recommended by her doctor, and looking forward to the fabulous new breasts she will soon be getting. She had a partial mastectomy on one breast, but to put safety measures in place for her future, she wants to have a double mastectomy then get those"fabulous new breasts"with which will come a tummy tuck. The surgery she will have done, a TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction, which is the gold standard in breast construction, removes some of her stomach skin and fat, to reconstruct her breasts and fill them in.

As she battled the disease, she admits that she was not always as confident as she is today and says at one point, she really stopped trying and didn't bother with anything. But after a month or two, she said to hell with it--that she was going to live her life and have fun. She was going to dress up and go out and rock her bald head.

When she first started to lose her hair, which was natural, her cousin took her to his barber and she got a low haircut. The hair continued to come out, so she told her husband to shave off the rest. Right after she did that, Lewis-Moore, who works for BAF Financial and Insurance Bahamas Ltd., the coordinators behind Denim Day in the country for 14 years in raising monies for a cure, says she had to attend a company awards ceremony to which she wore a head-wrap. For a week she wore different head-wraps until she was hit by a hot flash at work. All she wanted to do was get naked, but she couldn't at work. The best thing for her to do was remove the head-wrap. That was the last day she wore one.

Removing the head-wrap liberated her and gave her confidence.

"I had another coworker who had breast cancer and her advice to me was to just wear makeup, but I couldn't wear that because I sweat too much, so I would just draw on my eyebrows if I remembered in the mornings. One morning, I woke up, was washing my face, looked in the mirror and said,"By damn, I don't have any eyebrows, eyelashes, nothing. So some days, I had eyebrowsâEUR¦some days, I didn't and I put on my lip-gloss, put on my earrings and was out the door."


The cancer survivor is excited for her future. And she says cancer does not have to be a death sentence. She says women need to take their health seriously and check things out because they know their bodies, and know when something is wrong. She encourages them to get bumps or moles that they hadn't seen before checked out.

For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with breast cancer or will be diagnosed in the future, Lewis-Moore says she has learned that you need to have a strong support system at home and at work, both of which she had.

Through her battle, Lewis-Moore was thankful for the support she received from her husband, and also thankful that he had a group of friends with wives, sisters or mothers that had breast cancer that he could talk to.

"It was tough, because being a newlywed and fairly young, and I didn't have urges. It just wasn't there. I was miserable in the sense that I did not want to be bothered and I did not want to be here."

But she says her husband's support, as well as that of her family--her mother traveled from Grand Bahama to stay with them for six months--and her aunts and cousins helped by keeping the baby some days and make certain she was okay, especially after days when she endured eight-hour chemotherapy sessions, helped her through the rough times. And her co-workers that knew what she was going through were helpful and very understanding.

"I never thought cancer would happen to me. I thought maybe I would get diabetes because that runs in my family, but never anything like this,"she says.

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On cruise control

Now that ace pitcher Mary 'Cruise' Edgecombe-Sweeting is back on the mound, the YII Shipping Wildcats are sharpening their claws wanting to scrape their way into one of the four playoff spots in the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA).
After two years of watching from the stands, Edgecombe-Sweeting returned on Thursday night. She was on her way to a shut-out victory until Ronda Cooper hit an inside the park grand slam that drove in three runs. The Wildcats would hold off the third inning charge by the Lady Hitmen and won to a tune of 17-5. The win rounded off a perfect night for the softball club, whose men, the YII Shipping Bulldogs defeated Mighty Mitts 10-3. Ken Wood was tagged with the win in that game and Thela Johnson got the loss on the women's side.
"It is feels extremely good. I was just excited to get back there and not to concern about the win," said Edgecombe-Sweeting. "Just to be out there playing was tremendous. My teammates really, really supported me last night (Thursday). It was a lot of unity and togetherness. They were all excited that I was back. The fans showed their love and cheered me. I know that the crowd really missed my presence because everyone was talking about it.
"It was hard watching the team play and the games. I wanted to heal properly. As always your health comes first so it was hard just sitting there at times watching the games, wanting to go out there. Waiting paid off because I didn't want to go out there and not be able to play to my full potential."
Edgecombe-Sweeting was sidelined after a tearing the ligaments in her knee. She underwent two surgeries, one on her foot and the other on her knee. Even though she is able to walk around and play today, she said she's still feeling a little pain especially when she wears hard shoes.
Edgecombe-Sweeting is willing to work through the pain that she is feeling. Not only has she returned to play in the NPSA, but she is trying her hand at the national team as well.
She said: "I've been attending a few national team practices and they have welcomed me back so I will be traveling with the team this November. Basing it on last night's performance I will say that I am not 100 percent and not where I want to be exactly. But I am sure that if I continue to play and work hard I can get back to where I was.
"As far as the Wildcats, we never, ever worry about pennant. Once we hit the playoffs we usually turn it up. We just want to get into the playoffs. We know once we get into the playoffs, the Wildcats will overcome our hard times. We always rise to the occasion and with me back I am sure whoever we play in the playoffs, they too know that we are a force to be reckoned with."
The Wildcats are currently sitting in fourth. The team will return to the field next week against the Proper Care Pool Sharks, the third place team.

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Darling dropped by the Texans

It seems as though Bahamian professional football player Devard Darling can't 'catch a break' in the National Football League (NFL). Just when he thought his career was taking off again on the gridiron a knee injury put the wide receiver on the sidelines.
Determined to play this year, Darling settled with the Houston Texans who had picked him up earlier this summer, instead of being placed on the injured reserve list, which would have ended his season. Now, he is a free agent again. Darling tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee during the third pre-season game against the San Francisco 49ers. He underwent surgery on August 30.
"About two and half, three weeks ago, I got cleared from all the doctors, so I am all cleared, fully healthy and ready to go again," said Darling. "I have my agent working for me, but we still don't know anything yet. We are waiting week to week to see who has a need for a receiver, so that is the biggest thing right now. Unfortunately, in this business, a man's loss is another man's gain, so if someone gets hurt during the season that is where they will bring in another receiver. Right now, I am just waiting. You never know, this is just the way the game goes. Once I get that call I am ready to go, so we will see. It is all in the Lord's hands right now."
Darling said he is not 'antsy', despite the fact that the NFL is heading into Week Six of the 2011/2012 regular season. He is confident that the wait is not in vain, and that the important phone call is going to come. Right now playing on any of the 32 registered teams in the league will suffice, but if he is given a choice, the lean is more to the Texans.
He added: "Of course I am really leaning with the Houston Texans because I was with them in training camp. I know their plays, and also I am already in Houston. I can't sign back with the team until Week 10 because that is the NFL rules. They put me on IR (Injury Reserve) and I got a settlement from that, and I was released of injury reserve. I can't sign back with them until six weeks after I am fully recovered from my injury, so that is what it is right now. I can sign on with anyone right now because I am healthy and I am a free agent."
Darling signed on with the Texans in August of this year. He made his return to the NFL after playing in the United Football League (UFL) with the Omaha Nighthawks. The wide receiver was drafted into the NFL in 2004, the 87th pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the third round. He spent three years with the team, catching 20 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns.
Darling then moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 where he played in their camp for one year until he joined the Nighthawks in 2010. This is second sport-related injury since his official debut on the professional ranks. The first occurred while in the Chiefs' camp.
He doesn't believe that his career is over, and brushed his mishaps off as "a part of the game."
"This is a profession that I was blessed with and chose to do," he said. "This is just the business side of it, so you just have to go out there and work hard everyday, continue to hone your skills as much as possible on the field. All I can do right now is sit back and wait on that call. All I am doing is praying and waiting on the Lord to move on my behalf.
"I am training. I am training everyday. I just got done with a good workout so now I am icing. I have been training here in this facility called the Flex in Houston. A bunch of other football players are here and NFL veterans working out. They are basically in the same situation that I am in, a free agent, so it is good to workout and be around other guys, running routes, catching balls and getting ready."
Darling thanked all for supporting him during this rough time. Special thanks were sent to those who sent words of encouragement, especially from Bahamians wanting to see him back on the field.

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Allow the resurrected Christ to be the leader

He leadeth me beside the still waters. - Psalms 23:2.
Indeed it is that time of the year when we reflect on the death, burial and resurrection of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ! But to me, we treat it like the dawning of a new year when we are offering congratulations and salutations, and, within days, no one is offering peace, love and prosperity for the coming days, weeks and months. It is like a passing fancy.
So with our text today, I am grateful for the cross, the tomb and his ascension and the difference Jesus made in my life and yours. He is now positioned at the right hand of the Father, and, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, from his position in glory, he can transform our condition from darkness to noon daylight, from the valleys of poverty, lack, degradation and marginalization to such high moral and spiritual heights that our song would forever be, "He lives, because he lives in me".
How many of us are restless in spirit, troubled in mind, confused and longing for sweet peace that comes from above? We bombard others and talk shows with "pray for me" pleas because you can't control your children; your husband abuses you; you can't find a job; nobody on the job likes you and people are always picking on you; the government is not looking out for you; your representative won't give you anything.
When it gets to that point, you need to put down antiquated road maps and turn on to God's GPS for reliance to take us to our rightful destiny. There is no one other than Jesus Christ who can navigate us through the storm into peace and tranquility. I go around this island and see people in their need. I passed a huge building nearing completion -- a church to be exact -- and I thought of how it seems that it is a race to see who can have the largest church building - a building that is closed after Sunday service.
The wonderful and well-loved Psalm of David tells of his love for the caring of sheep and how God is the shepherd of our lives. Every good shepherd wants the best for his sheep. If you know today that the lord God is your shepherd, why are you so troubled? Do you doubt his tender mercy? Then why, at this Easter time, are you so nervous and edgy? Do you really believe that he is not dead, but alive?
The Lord is your shepherd and you need to know this in time of need. He promised to supply all your needs, and, if you believe, you will receive. The word "want" becomes obsolete when the Lord is your shepherd and "want" includes money.
The world is in such an uproar, and men's hearts are failing because of fear: fear that they will lose power; fear that popularity is fading; fear that other nations and peoples are rising up against them; fear that party support is slipping away; fear that dictatorial leadership is pushing for supremacy; fear that faithfulness, loyalty and credibility are foreign elements in time of reliance -- just plain fear within and without.
But, today in our text, there is hope for today and peace for tomorrow, and, in spite of all that you are going through, your helper is about to lead you beside still waters. You are about to experience a spiritual paradigm shift and soul-changing surgery. So while there is participation, there is also anticipation. You will drink in peace and safety for spiritual renewal.
Whatever your situation is today, as you too face many crosses in your life, allow the good shepherd, the resurrected Christ to be the leader. He alone knows the way through the wilderness of peril and uncertainty.
To be a wandering sheep and not love the fold, not heed the shepherd's voice and not be controlled, is detrimental to your spiritual wellness. Still waters will lead to restoration and newness of purpose and possibilities.
o E-mail, or write to P.O. Box 19725 SS Nassau, Bahamas with your prayer requests, concerns and comments. God's Blessings!

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